We thought we'd come and gone on the whole Apple-does-an-MVNO rumor thing that was buzzing around just prior to the ROKR E1's launch last September, but with Apple's enigmatic "Mobile Me" trademark filing hitting the the wires today, speculation is already re-cropping up that Apple's still working behind the scenes to pound out their own mobile virtual network operator. Now, granted, we did have it on authority (albeit quite some time back) that that's what was really going down -- but is it really that likely anymore? We can't really see Apple going it alone on this one for hardware's sake, and their partnership with Moto, which once seemed so promising, now appears rocky at best after the nano quasi-betrayal (his namely evidenced by Moto's wandering musicphone eye, lining up some seriosu musicphones without iTunes left and right post ROKR E1, like the ROKR E2). But like it or not, the Apple MVNO rumor's back: the Chicago Tribune attributes one American Technology Research analyst as saying he thinks Apple "will have a device and an MVNO," so there. Frankly, at this point we won't really be surprised either way; just don't act too surprised when Applephone service comes out with over-the-air downloads at the industry's current unacceptably expensive rates leashed to a so-so / seemingly-noncommital Moto musicphone.

[Thanks, slacker]

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